For more than seven decades (and counting) the Schneider Male Chorus has been bringing an enjoyable, high-quality sound to the residents of Waterloo Region and beyond. With strong roots in the Kitchener-Waterloo community, the chorus has travelled, over its last 70 years, to present their strong male harmonic voices to audiences all over Canada and the United States, as well as abroad.
The Schneider Men’s Choir sprang out of a gathering at a local picnic (remember them?) for employees of the J.M. Schneider Meat Packing Co. in 1938. It was the idea of Robert Klaehn, a development engineer. The all-male chorus, with the encouragement and support of the company president and owner, Norman C. Schneider, was officially founded in 1939 – and began to perform throughout the community and the province, growing in both numbers and strength of performance.
During the war years, the choir was actively involved in wartime fund-raising events in the twin cities.
In 1947, the Schneider Male Choir merged with the community-based, Orpheus Male Choir, to become Schneider-Orpheus Male Choir – sponsored by J.M Schneider. It was a good match – the Schneider Male Choir needed more members, and the Orpheus Male Choir needed a conductor and accompanist. Although still largely made up of company employees, the chorus was opened to any male singers from within the community. In 1960 it changed it’s name to the current Schneider Male Chorus.
In 2009, J. M. Schneider Foods, now Maple Leaf foods stopped supporting the chorus and it has been supporting itself with the help of the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo since. Each year the chorus holds about 30 weekly practices in winter, spring, and fall seasons, perform 4 to 8 concerts in support of charitable efforts of the chorus and other groups and organizations, and perform 5 to 7 concerts for residents of retirement and long term care facilities and other requested venues.
In 2015 a sub-group of 5 of the guys plus Nancy started rehearsing some other music for fun and to entertain at the choir Christmas Banquet. That has since grown into The Quintessentials Quintet and they have started to have bookings of their own to support the choir.
- 1939 – 1941 Mr Binhammer
- 1941 – 1963 Paul Berg
- 1963 – 1975 Paul Berg and Fred Lehman assisting
- 1975 – 1989 Fred Lehman and Jack Houston assisting
- 1989 – 2009 Laurie Rowbotham
- 2009 – present Nancy Kidd
- 1947 – 1975 Jack Houston
- 1976 – 1989 Dianne Daniels with Jack Houston assisting
- 1989 – 1998 Lori Kaj
- 1998 – 2002 Jennifer Famme
- 2002 – 2007 Jennifer Famme with Barbara Kellerman assisting
- 2007 – 2017 Barbara Kellerman and Lori Danylchuk (nee Kaj)
- 2017 – 2020 Lori Danylchuk (nee Kaj) and Mark Goulet
- 2020 – present Mark Goulet
Jim Rennie Award
This award was created in 2007 to recognize members who provided exceptional service to the Choir. It was named after our most faithful and longest serving member at the time, Jim Rennie. Jim had 58 years of perfect attendance at both rehearsals and concerts and was its first recipient. He died shortly after receiving this award. The recipients to date :
- 2007 Jim Rennie
- 2008 Ken Benninger
- 2009 Dave Krupp
- 2010 Jim Ball
- 2011 David Bartel
- 2012 Armin Armbruster
- 2013 Vern Hoover
- 2014 Barbara Kellerman and Lori Danylchuk
- 2015 Ralph Brenneman
- 2016 Lester Kehl
- 2017 Marvin Reesor
- 2018 Geoff Vanderkooy
- 2019 Stuart Cross
- 2020 Scott Hannah
SMC Group photos